Rocket Lab Readies Combination of NASA and Commercial Satellites for Launch

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. is gearing up for its upcoming launch called “Baby Come Back,” which is set to take place on July 18th at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. This mission marks the company’s second recovery mission of the year and will involve launching a mix of satellites for NASA and commercial satellite constellation operators.

The launch window for Baby Come Back is scheduled between 11:30 and 13:30 NZST on July 18th. This mission will see a total of seven satellites being launched to a sun synchronous orbit for three customers: NASA, Space Flight Laboratory, and Spire Global.

NASA’s Starling mission is one of the key payloads on this launch. It involves four CubeSats that will demonstrate the capabilities of cooperative groups of spacecraft, also known as swarms. These spacecraft will autonomously coordinate their activities in orbit, demonstrating the ability to fly together, plan and execute activities as a group, and maintain an inter-spacecraft communications network.

Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) has also selected Rocket Lab to launch Telesat’s LEO 3 demonstration satellite. This satellite will provide continuity for customer and ecosystem vendor testing campaigns following the decommissioning of Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite. LEO 3 will play a crucial role in low-latency customer applications testing and support LEO antenna and modem development efforts.

Spire Global will be launching two satellites carrying Global Navigation Satellite System Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) payloads. These satellites will replenish Spire’s fully deployed constellation of more than 100 multipurpose satellites. Spire’s satellites observe the Earth in real time using radio frequency technology, providing valuable data for weather models and improving the accuracy of forecasts.

After the launch, Rocket Lab’s Electron first stage will return to Earth under a parachute and complete a soft splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The company’s marine recovery vessel will then retrieve the stage from the ocean and transport it back to Rocket Lab’s production complex for analysis. This mission will showcase new recovery upgrades, including waterproofing systems to protect key engine and avionics components.

Overall, Baby Come Back will be Rocket Lab’s seventh Electron launch of 2023 and the 39th Electron launch overall. It represents a significant step in the company’s efforts to make Electron a reusable rocket.

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